Here’s a rather sad story out of the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. It’s youth football season, and the Conshohocken Golden Bears were on a roll last Saturday. In their Keystone State youth football league game they were up 30-0 over their opponents and once again had the ball and were driving toward the endzone. An excited five-year-old player took the handoff and broke for the endzone. And that’s when everything went wrong. The team was penalized and is now facing a stiff fine from the league. The reason? They scored too many points. (CBS Philadelphia)
A youth football team dominated its competition over the weekend. So what could be wrong with that? Apparently, their win was too big and now they may end up having to pay a fine.
“Don’t play well. Just play OK.”
That’s the message that some parents feel is being expressed to their young football players…
“There’s a 31-point rule that every organization, every team has to abide by. We violated that rule,” said Mike Mikalonis, president of the Conshohocken Bears.
In the local CBS news clip below, you can see the coash racing along the sideline trying to convince the kid to not go into the endzone. But the young boy is far too excited to slow down.
This is just sad. Nobody likes to lose, and certainly not in a blowout, but what sort of lesson are we sending kids who choose to participate in competitive sports with a rule like this? Don’t do too well or you might hurt someone’s feelings? There are no blowout rules in college and professional sports. You play to win. Sometimes a coach will pull the first string if they’re way up just to avoid injuries and give some of the rookies some experience in real action, but it’s not a requirement.
That seemed to be the message a former member of the Philadelphia Eagles was sending on Twitter.
@YouthKeystone is trippin! 1. Kids need to learn how to deal with failure. Don’t want to get smashed? Play better. 2. Life doesn’t let up. When it rains it pours. 3. The other kids can’t give their all because there is a rule. “Work hard but not too hard” that’s stupid.
This mentality of “everybody gets a trophy” doesn’t do children any favors. They’re getting an education in school but they’re also being prepared for the real world when they graduate. And the fact is that everyone doesn’t always get a trophy. If you lose, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try harder next time. (My disastrous efforts in junior varsity football hammered that lesson home on a regular basis.)
Come on, guys. Let the kids play. And if somebody takes a bad loss, use that as an opportunity to educate them and prepare them for the realities of life.
Welcome back to my Saturday column in which I take a look back on the news of the week and try to determine- are we doomed?
Let Communism Ring!
As you probably heard, the general manager of NBA’s Houston Rockets supported those fighting for freedom in Hong Kong. The Chinese government, Chinese Basketball Association, and Chinese businesses were upset. It was going to cost the NBA money and, being capitalists who wanted those communist dollars coming in from China, the NBA caved. They’re even censoring fans now as well as the media.
Still, it hasn’t made a lot of difference. Nike, for example, has pulled Houston Rockets merchandise from all stores in China. What happened to this slogan from just about a year ago?
Either they don’t believe in freedom or they’re not really willing to sacrifice much.
Verdict: Yeah, we’re doomed.
I Trusted You, Scotch
If you spend any time at all on the internet you have, at some point, been faced with the question “if you were to be kidnapped, what would you post on social media to let your followers know you needed help, what would it be?”
I can only assume The Glenlivet has been kidnapped.
There is no other justifiable reason for whisky pods to exist. The Glenlivet Distillery has only been around since 1824, so it’s not even close to being the oldest distillery operating in Scotland, but they’re hardly a new upstart looking to disrupt the market by getting milennials to shove Tide Pods full of whisky down their gullets. They’re better than that, surely.
Verdict: Full doom. Possibly numbed by whisky, but you’ll have to eat it, so what’s the point?
You Can’t Sit With Us
Last Sunday, Ellen DeGeneres went to a football game and sat with friends. People were outraged, because Ellen has friends with whom she is not ideologically identical.
Liberals were outraged that she would do such a thing. Conservatives barely thought about it beyond seeing a couple of cute photos floating around the internet and absently thinking it looked like they were having a good time (although we probably knew she was going to get tarred and feathered by her own for it).
Here was Ellen’s reaction to the hate that was tweeted at her for knowing a person with differing opinions.
Here’s the thing. Conservatives have lots of friends we disagree with. Heck, we don’t even agree with our other conservative friends half the time, and I can’t think of any conservatives who don’t have liberals in their circles. I can think of plenty of liberals who won’t associate with conservatives, or just know one who isn’t like the rest of them (who are, obviously, terrible).
In short, conservatives are like:
But liberals are like:
Verdict: On one hand, the people who are supposed to be on her “side” took her to task for not self-segregating and, even after this video, refused to pause and consider that maybe she was right. Many just doubled down. On the other hand, in 2019 it takes courage to sit with people that you know you’re going to get torched for sitting with, then go on television to say that, not only are you not sorry about it, but everybody else needs to check their kindness levels. It makes me think that some people are beyond human reach, but the world itself isn’t doomed yet.
Honoring His True Dad
Check out this college football player who changed his last name to honor the man who raised him.
Ellen DeGeneres sat next to former President George W. Bush Sunday at the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers game in Dallas. A photo was taken by DeGeneres of the two and it went viral. The Twitter mob came for her.
The very people who virtue shame anyone within earshot about civility to justify hatred toward President Trump are the first to jump ugly when their delicate sensibilities are offended. Nothing threatens ideologues more than a friendship between a liberal and a conservative. In the real world, though, it is the norm, not the exception. Any person going through life with only those who agree with him or her politically is traveling in a rare circle.
I remember seeing the photo on Twitter Sunday and shrugging. Frankly, it’s pretty normal behavior for George W. Bush. The dirty little secret in politics is that conservatives bend more and quicker than liberals do when it comes to everyday life. In culture, this is especially true. Just sitting there and watching that game meant that Bush was turning a blind eye to the current social justice warrior behavior of professional NFL players. It’s his choice to make but it must have given him pause at some point when the kneeling on the sidelines began.
Ellen’s Twitter feed is a mess. A quick glance shows why she felt the need to address the reaction from the outrage mob. She posted a tweet with a video from her pre-recorded Tuesday show.
Ellen explains that she and her wife were invited to be guests of owner Jerry Jones by his daughter, Charlotte. They were in his “fancy” owners suite, along with George and Laura Bush. Ellen did what anyone would do if sitting next to a former president at a public event – she took video footage of the two of them. It went downhill from there, even from the entertainment industry.
"I'm friends with George Bush," boasts Ellen, saying it's good to have friends with different views
But this isn't a matter of views; it's a matter of *crimes*. Bush is a war criminal with the blood of 1 million Iraqis on his hands. He should be in prisonhttps://t.co/IJvbvuhQQ0
Ah, yes. The party of tolerance is still calling Bush a war criminal. He shouldn’t be attending a football game, he should be locked up in jail. Got it. Hey, he “created ICE”, too. He must be shunned for protecting our borders and wanting to know who is in our country.
He’s responsible for creating ICE and its detention centers
There are good responses, too. Mostly, this is Ellen DeGeneres being Ellen DeGeneres. She once was as strong a critic of Bush as the rest of the Hollywood elite. Then she got really successful and really wealthy and now she’s friends with ex-presidents and other public figures so it’s all kumbaya now.
She knew what she was doing. See how tolerant I am? She still zings Republicans but just the ones she doesn’t know in real life. If a conservative is a friend, she’s just being tolerant. DeGeneres now wants you to know she can be friends with conservatives, at least the wealthy and well-known ones. She’s into a different kind of virtue-shaming now.
“Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have,” DeGeneres continued. “We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different… but just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”
“When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.”
What she is doing, though, is simply being an adult. Grown-ass people know that in order to live in civil society, interactions will happen and we are expected to be mature enough to handle it. It is silly to pat yourself on the back for acting like an adult, which she is doing if we are being honest here. A true test of how magnanimous she is would be to be sitting next to someone from Trump World. During the two terms of George W. Bush, she was as vocal as anyone else against him.
This week the Supreme Court is taking up a case of particular interest of the LGBTQ community. The timing of DeGeneres’s interaction with Bush was noted ironically. The left is nothing if not predictable.
The “be kind” mantra is the politically correct way of saying “be a decent human being”. The left needs that lesson as much as any of those they criticize. To call this gesture a moment of restoring faith in humankind is hyperbole, to put it kindly.
Somehow I don’t think the Intelligence Committee will have time to get around to investigating this one, what with all of the Ukraine stuff going on, but you never know.
Donald Trump gets blamed for all manner of things by the mainstream media (and their friends in the Democratic Party). Global warming, children in cages and the general decline and fall of civilization are all things he’s typically held responsible for. But this weekend a new “scandal” was tossed onto the pile. The President is apparently the reason that Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job as a starting quarterback in the NFL this year. This showed up last night at Yahoo News.
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith explained on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning that team owners could potentially lose billions of dollars in revenue if they went against Trump, who has been vocal in his hatred of Kaepernick. The NFL is currently trying to get gambling legalized, and that requires the thumbs up from the President and Congress.
“Well, what was going on on Capitol Hill is that the owners, the NFL owners were trying to get involved with that, where they were trying to get a percentage of the bets and all of this other stuff that was going on. So what happens is, we’re talking billions. Well, guess what? In order for that to happen, you need Congress to sign off on it and you need the President to sign off on it. What you don’t need is the President turning his attention towards you and going against you just because he doesn’t like you.”
In case you’re wondering where this latest flap originated, it all appears to have stemmed from one article at an outlet called Pop Culture. And what was their source for this exclusive, breaking news story? A radio interview with an ESPN sports analyst.
Stephen A. Smith is saying that the President holds a lot of influence with the NFL franchise owners. (Possibly true in some cases, but there’s not a lot of intersection there.) From that starting point, he launches into a story about how the NFL wants to see sports gambling further legalized so the league can pick up a big cut of that action. This is also not really in doubt. They’ve been pushing the idea for a while now.
From there, Smith goes on to claim that Trump probably let the owners know if any of them hired Kaepernick he’d be “angry” with them. And if the President is angry, he might not agree to sign off on any deal that would let the legalized gambling move forward.
What evidence does the ESPN analyst offer to show that this actually happened? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. It’s just a “feeling” that he has. The claim is described as something that Smith “believes.” The social media uproar that followed all quoted him as “suggesting” or “hinting” that this happened.
This is extraordinarily obvious. Every NFL owner knows that if they allow Kap on their team they are going to be excoriated by Trump.
And yet not one shred of evidence has been offered. But hey, who needs evidence of anything in 2019?
There is no movement on further gambling legislation that would benefit the NFL currently in danger of being sent to the President’s desk. There’s not much indication that he even pays any attention to football except where the players do things that intersect with cultural politics and then he rants about it for a while on Twitter. Trump picks on Kaepernick because he’s become something of a cultural touchstone on the right.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick finished his last pro season with a rather mediocre record and there were a lot of seasoned, experienced quarterbacks available out there, along with some highly anticipated rookies. Was he good enough to land a position somewhere? Probably. But as I’ve stated here countless times, there is an unofficial but very real rule in the NFL. The amount of crap your team is willing to put up with regarding your off-field antics is directly proportional to how likely they believe you are to get them to the Super Bowl. (That’s why Antonio Brown still had a job at the beginning of the season. The guy creates endless horrible headlines but he’s a yardage machine.) Kaepernick came out on the losing end of that calculation and that’s why he’s watching the season from home.
Jazz: Week three was yet another “meh” affair in our competition. I went 4-3 again, only by yet again picking against the Jets, bringing me to 13-8 on the season with a long way to go. Not terrible, but not particularly awesome. The good news is that the New York Jets are poised to have their best week of the 2019 season so far. Because they’re not playing. These guys actually didn’t look all that bad against New England last week, all things considered. They scored more points against the Patriots than anyone else has so far, even if zero of those points were put up by the offense. But if we don’t stabilize some key positions and firm up the offensive line it’s going to be yet another very long season.
Ed: I also went 4-3 last week, so I’m now 10-11 on the season, which is even more meh than Jazz’ season … but it beats the 2-5 record I had from the week before. At least the Steelers are playing this week, and at least they’re playing this season. Pittsburgh’s still making roster moves hoping to salvage 2019 rather than just going for a rebuilding season, but whether it can help keep Mason Rudolph from having to do it all himself. We’ll see if they can turn the corner this week … but I’m hoping I can, anyway.
Jazz: As I mentioned above, the Jets are staying off the field this week so we can move straight to Pittsburgh’s game. The Steelers welcome the Bengals in the Monday night game (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) and Pittsburgh without Big Ben and a rather porous offensive line hasn’t been particularly impressive. The good news is that the Bengals have been stinking up the joint nearly as badly. If for nothing other than home-field advantage, I’ll take the Steelers over the Bengals 21-17. The Vikings visit the Bears (4:25 pm, CBS) in what may not be that much of a showdown between Kirk Cousins against Mitchell Trubisky because both teams have been running a lot and relying on defense. The Vikings benefit from all the yards running back Dalvin Cook has been putting on the board. Chicago is the slight favorite, but I’ll flip a coin and take Minnesota over Chicago in a defensive battle, 16-12. Since the Jets are out, let’s toss in the Cowboys in our featured games. Dallas plays the Saints in New Orleans (8:20 pm, NBC) and they are somehow favored by less than a field goal. On paper, it looks like the Saints should be better at home but Dallas has been pinning their ears back over the past couple of seasons. I’ll take Dallas over New Orleans 24-16.
Ed: On paper, the Steelers and Bengals are pretty evenly matched, which isn’t exactly a compliment. The Steelers have had to face tougher competition this season than Cincinnati has, and they’re playing at home, so Steelers 24-13 over Bengals. The Viking aren’t the same team on the road, and especially not without Dalvin Cook and their running game. Chicago is keeping teams to less than 70 rushing yards a game, which means Kirk Cousins will have to win it against the Bears’ offense at home rather than in Minnesota’s indoor field. I’m rooting for Vikes, but I’ll pick Chicago 20-14 over Minnesota. Normally I wouldn’t bet against New Orleans at home, but without Drew Brees, this is a different team. Teddy Bridgewater’s trying, but Dallas is too much stronger on both sides of the ball. Cowboys over Saints 28-23.
Jazz: Here’s our final four games for the week to get us to seven.
Panthers at Texans (1:00 pm, FOX) – Kyle Allen has been doing an impressive job filling in for Cam Newton so this one will probably be closer than we may think. But Houston has a better looking line on both sides of the ball so I’ll give this one to the Texans over the Panthers 17-12.
Redskins at Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) – This is more of a sentimental pick for me, including a New York team in a classic NFC matchup. The Giants have not looked good this year, but Washington hasn’t put a W on the board yet. That trend continues this weekend. Give me the Giants over the Redskins 27-17.
Titans at Falcons (1:00 pm, CBS) – Both of these teams are off to a rocky start at 1-2, but it’s way too early to write either of them off. Julio Jones has been putting up some impressive numbers for Atlanta and this match probably won’t be a defensive struggle. (*cough*) I think Atlanta looks a bit better on the offensive side so I’ll take the Falcons over the Titans 27-24.
Jaguars at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) – Denver is 0-3 but Jacksonville’s obvious weaknesses seem to line up with the few things the Broncos are getting right. This one could be a tossup, but I’ll take the Broncos over the Jaguars 16-9.
Panthers at Texans (1:00 pm, FOX) – Actually, Carolina’s tougher than you’d think without Newton. Their defense is better than Houston’s on yards allowed (fifth in the league) and their offense isn’t too bad, considering. Panthers 22-14 over the Texans.
Redskins at Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) – Expect the boost from last week’s debut win for Daniel Jones to carry over at home against the rival Redskins. Both teams give up the same number of points per game (31.3), but the Giants’ offense racks up 70 more yards a game even with Eli Manning’s stats included. Giants 35-21 over the Redskins.
Titans at Falcons (1:00 pm, CBS) – Atlanta’s not turning yards into points on offense, and are giving up eight points more a game than Tennessee despite giving up about the same amount of yardage on defense. Home-field advantage might cure some of that, but all of it? I’m skeptical. Titans over the Falcons 25-17.
Jaguars at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) – Neither team is setting the league on fire, but they are pretty evenly matched. Joe Flacco and the home-field advantage will be enough for Denver 19-14 over the Jags.
Welcome to Are We Doomed? a weekly column in which I will take the latest news and try to determine if it’s all downhill from here.
This week, we’ve dealt with homicidal Ukrainian babywomen with dwarfism, a really weird “academic” study, and the stupidity of cancel culture. On the plus side, we’ve also seen people helping others in unexpected ways.
Homicidal Ukrainian Babywoman Dwarf
I never thought that was a heading I would use, but it’s 2019, so I’m pretty sure we’re living in a simulation anyway, and I’m just rolling with it at this point.
Here’s the basic story. The Barnetts, an American family adopted a 6 year-old Ukrainian orphan with dwarfism in 2010. Natalia, said orphan, started acting strangely (like allegedly telling her new mom she was trying to murder her) and showed physical signs of being older than she said she was, so they took her to a doctor and, in 2012, it was legally declared that she was actually born in 1989. That’s right, their 6 year-old was actually (allegedly!) in her 20s.
After acts of violence, Natalia was placed into a mental institution where she confessed to faking her age. So, in 2013, when the Barnetts son was given an opportunity to study in Canada, they got Natalia her own apartment, paid for a month, and went to Canada without her.
Now, they’re being charged with abandoning a dependent…and another family has adopted the supposed child.
So, are we doomed? Unclear. We have to wait and see if she’s actually an adult and/or murderer. However, the options here are that a woman pretended to be a child to be adopted by an American family, and then tried to murder them OR an American family adopted a child, thought or pretended to think she was a grown woman, and left her on her own to move to Canada. Both options kind of spell doom.
Is Tom Brady Everything That’s Wrong With Everything?
I don’t care much about football, to be honest (I’m a hockey girl), but I know who Tom Brady is. I’m from Michigan, so I don’t hate him like some do although, for the aforementioned lack of football love, I don’t stan him, either. The question is, does anybody have Tom Brady derangement syndrome like University of Rhode Island kinesiology professor Kyle Kusz?
In a book entitled “The Palgrave Handbook of Masculinity and Sport” he wrote a chapter called Making American White Men Great Again: Tom Brady, Donald Trump, and the Allure of White Male Omnipotence in Post-Obama America. Seriously.
Here’s an excerpt (emphasis mine):
I illuminate how Brady’s white masculinity is often coded as unapologetic about his socio-economic privileges, omnipotent in his manliness, and as a master of his body and athletic craft. In short, Brady embodies a living fantasy of white male omnipotence that serves symbolically as an imagined solution to white male anxiety for those who feel that the United States is in the midst of a culture war against white men and traditional American culture and values.
So, are we doomed? Yep. While this was soundly mocked among some online, this still exists. Moreover, it was written by a college professor. Academia is broken, and that’s not a good sign.
The Des Moines Register Takes a Stand Against Charitable Giving
Finally, cancel culture reared its ugly head this week in one of the dumbest ways I’ve seen. In terms of doomedness, the story of Carson King might have given you whiplash this week.
First, King was a symbol that everything was going to be ok. Attending an Iowa football game, he held a sign saying that his Busch beer supply was getting low and listed his Venmo handle for anyone who might want to help. Amused viewers sent him more money than he expected, so he pledged to donate it to a local children’s hospital.
As this went viral, Anheuser- Busch and Venmo both got on board with donations and matching pledges of their own. Thus far, we are completely doom-free. People are fun enough to send King money, he decided to give the money to help sick kids, and the corporations mentioned on the sign got on board.
Then, the doom started. The Des Moines Register decided to do a piece on him and, in making sure he wasn’t a scam artist, took a look through his old Tweets. Apparently, he quoted the show Tosh.0 when he was 16 years old and those tweets included some racially charged language. I’ll be honest- it included the N-word. For some reason, the “journalist” Aaron Calvin took this to the editorial staff, and they discussed whether or not to put this in the article. Why? I have no idea. It’s not at all relevant to the story. We’re totally doomed.
At this point, Calvin talked to King about these tweets and he, in turn, did the only smart thing- he got ahead of it. He spoke to the press expressing regret for the tweets that he made years ago (again, as a 16 year-old). Anheuser-Busch said they would keep their commitment to match donations through the end of the month, but cancelled all other promotions they had planned. We’re not doomed, because King took responsibility for what he tweeted, but we’re totally doomed that Calvin didn’t just tell him privately that he’d found these tweets, assure him this was not relevant to the story, and give him the opportunity to delete them quietly. We are also doomed because the beer giant didn’t stand up for King.
Then, things started getting looking up. The internet was outraged that this young man who had by this point raised more than a million dollars for the hospital had been dragged through the mud for…nothing. Then, it was discovered that that Calvin himself had tweeted even worse things. Ridiculous.
DMR ended up firing Calvin, but didn’t take any responsibility editorially. Calvin wasn’t fully to blame. Do they understand that people won’t even trust them to write a puff piece anymore? I’m not convinced. They took cancel culture too far.
Now, Iowa’s governor Kim Reynolds has named Saturday, September 29 “Carson King Day”. With $2 million in raised and counting, it’s no wonder.
So, are we doomed? There’s a lot in this story that spells doom. They dug up dirt on a guy who raised money for charity; a guy who could have taken the initial thousands of dollars in beer money and enjoyed himself. Still I think this is a story of not being doomed. King decided to help others with the money, the internet (for once) used their power for good, and King was recognized by the governor. If news outlets take notice and change their ways, even just a little bit, the impending doom will have been worth it.
Policeman Helps Kid Learn to Tie a Tie
A Utah teenager was running late for his homecoming dance because he didn’t know how to tie a tie, and his single mom couldn’t help. Headed to a friend’s house, they rolled through a stop sign and were pulled over. After explaining the issue to the policeman, he helped the young man and showed him how to tie his tie.
So, are we doomed? Nope. People are still good.
In the final analysis:
This was a wild week, and a lot of reason to think doom was around the corner. Still, we saw a lot of people helping others and standing up for strangers. I don’t think we’re doomed quite yet…but be careful out there. It’s kind of iffy some days.
It all started when some cheerleaders held up a Trump 2020 banner in a photo at North Stanly High School in North Carolina. The cheerleaders were punished with a “probation” but, in truth, the school took no action against the cheerleaders and continued to allow them to cheer at other games.
The reason behind the “probation” was due to the fact that the cheer squad was wearing their uniforms in the photo, and school policy dictates that the school cannot be viewed as endorsing a political candidate, and fair enough.
There’s expected to be a big political showing at Friday night’s North Stanly High School football game after the North Stanly High School cheerleading team on probation for taking part in a political message at a game https://t.co/ubdRe1C71bpic.twitter.com/F6FAIemsWG
That should have been the end of it, but since this is 2019, someone was angry enough to get violent.
According to Fox News, Stanly High canceled their upcoming football game, simply stating that they received “additional information that could compromise safety measures our schools have in place for sporting events.”
What this means has remained obscure, but according to Jeremy Onitreb, an organizer for an upcoming rally in support of the cheerleaders who held the sign, a threat was sent to the school as reported by the Daily Wire:
Onitreb also told the Observer that he and fellow organizers were in contact with law enforcement ahead of the rally. But then, he said, someone tried to shut down the rally by threatening the school.
“The reason they decided to cancel the game is because somebody out there wanted to shut down our free speech so bad — they wanted to shut this rally down so bad — that they were willing to call the school and threaten the school,” he said. “I’m flabbergasted.”
Onitreb said that despite the football game’s cancellation, the rally will continue, and rallies may even be held until the end of the season to get the point across.
“We’re not going down like this,” he said. “Rocky Balboa wore American flag trunks for a reason. Do you know how hard it was to knock that man out? Well, it’s going to be real hard to knock us out.”
It’s sad that a school is having to shut down an entire football game because someone with an advanced case of TDS can’t stand to see the orange man supported by the youth that left is supposed to own. If anything, the school should increase security and hold the game anyway in defiance of these threats just as Onitreb is continuing to hold these rallies.
A message has to be sent that fear won’t rule the day.
Jazz: I managed to go 5-2 in week one, missing only on the Jets and the Browns. There’s probably some irony in that statistic because the Jets play the Browns this week. Of course, our superstar sophomore quarterback is out for a few weeks with mono and Le’veon Bell injured his shoulder, but I’ll cry more about that later. For the time being, I’ll just make sure there’s plenty of alcohol available on Monday night.
Ed: Speaking of crying, I’ve been weepy over that shellacking the Steelers took in Foxboro all week. At least I started out above .500, but a 4-3 record and five bucks gets you a café latté around here, I see. Perhaps now that we’ve had a chance to take our first look at everyone’s starting squad, we’ll do a bit better this week … as long as we don’t pick the Browns.
Jazz: As mentioned above, the Jets host the Browns on Monday night (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) and the outlook is not bright in Mudville. The Jets were already probably going to be at even odds at best, but now Sam Darnold has mono, our new star running back has a bum shoulder and we had to recruit a new placekicker out of the parking lot. I hate doing it, but even I can’t pick New York this week. I’ll take Cleveland over New York, 23-9. The Steelers host the Seahawks in what should be one of the better games of the week (1:00 pm, FOX). As horrible as Pittsburgh looked at New England, I have to believe they’ll shake that off. They are so much better on paper. And Seattle is good, but they’re not Patriots level good. I’m picking the Steelers over the Seahawks 27-17. The Vikings visit the Packers (1:00 pm, FOX) after both of them had a great opening week. Both of these teams also looked a lot better on defense than offense. I foresee a lower scoring game that may just come down to home field advantage. I’ll take Green Bay over the Vikings 21-16.
Ed: As bad as the Pittsburgh Steelers looked last week, there were two upsides. First, it looked like execution problems rather than talent deficiencies, and execution can get fixed. At home, the Steelers will be a lot tougher, and the Seahawks didn’t exactly chew up the ground either against the Bengals in Seattle last week. Steelers over Seahawks, 24-20. Green Bay looked very impressive on defense last week, and this week they’re playing at home. The Vikes have a good running game, but they’re better at home than on the road. Packers 17-14 over the Vikings, maybe even in OT. Finally, the NFL has put the Browns at Jets on Monday night, which might be the best expression of hope over experience anyone has seen. Even with the Browns’ flop last week they’re still favored by a TD, thanks to Darnold’s illness and Bell’s injury. I’m … not so sure. I’ll take the Jets 21-17 over the Browns in an upset.
Jazz: Here’s four more games to fill out our card for the week.
Chargers at Lions (1:00 pm, CBS) – I would have picked the Chargers if they hadn’t gotten more banged up than the Jets last week. As it is, the good look the Lions defense gave us should be enough to cause Philip Rivers problems. I’ll go with the Lions over the Chargers 17-14.
Saints at Rams (4:25 pm, FOX) – These are two good teams who now have some contentious history behind them so passions will probably be running high. The Saints definitely look playoff ready to me, but they’ll be flying to the west coast for this one. It’s just a hunch, but I’ll take the Rams over the Saints 28-24.
Bears at Broncos (4:25 pm, FOX) – A fun pick, but neither of these teams looks like they’re ready to put a bunch of points on the board. I’ll take the Broncos over the Bears 20-12.
Eagles at Falcons (8:20 pm, NBC) – The Falcons wound up with a tough schedule, first running into the Saints and now the Eagles. Sadly, with their somewhat dodgy offensive line against the Birds’ massive D line, it won’t improve this week. I’ll take the Eagles over the Falcons 24-13.
Chargers at Lions (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Lions looked good for three quarters in Arizona before fading badly in the fourth. At home, they’d better pull it together, but I think the Chargers will pull this one out, 31-28.
Saints at Rams (4:25 pm, FOX) – Want to bet pass interference calls won’t get missed this time around? The Saints come into Los Angeles with a lot to prove — and maybe the Rams do, too. I’ll give the edge to the Saints this time around, 33-27.
Bears at Broncos (4:25 pm, FOX) – Da Bears got humbled at home last week … and Denver didn’t do too well on the road, either. Chicago has the better team and will bounce back first, 19-14.
Eagles at Falcons (8:20 pm, NBC) – Fly like an Eagle to the sea. Atlanta’s at home, but Philly will be too much for them. Eagles 27-17 over the Falcons.
The financial world has been atwitter about the inversion of the yield curve. It is a phenomenon in the bond market in which longer-term interest rates fall below shorter-term interest rates, and has historically been a warning sign that a recession could be on the way.
This all seems obvious to people who are steeped in bond market math and the workings of fixed-income markets, and can be completely perplexing to those who are not.
Maybe a sports gambling analogy will make the intuition clearer.
Any adult can walk into a casino and bet on how an N.F.L. team will do this year. For example, bettors once again expect the New England Patriots to be an excellent team — that they are likely to win 11 or 12 out of their 16 games. Casinos will let you wager on how many games they will win this season.
But what if casinos not only would let you bet on how a team will do this year, but how they will perform over the next, 2, 5, 10 or even 30 years? What would you pay for a betting slip that promises, say, a $10 payout for every Patriots regular season win in the next decade?
And what if you could then sell that slip to other gamblers, with its price rising and falling as bettors’ views on the outlook for the Patriots changes? Essentially, you could take the price that people are paying for those slips with different durations, and, with some simple math, figure out how many games bettors expect the team to win each year in the future.
That’s kind of what the bond market does with interest rates. Bonds that mature at different times are always trading on global markets, and with some fairly simple math you can figure out what the price of different bonds implies about how interest rates are expected to change over the coming years.
Interest rates are closely connected to the rate of economic growth and inflation. In boom times, lots of people want to borrow money, to expand their businesses, say, or buy houses. And the Federal Reserve will raise the interest rate that it controls in order to prevent the economy from overheating, resulting in inflation. When a slowdown comes, the process works in reverse.
If you buy, say, a 90-day Treasury bill, you are likely to receive an interest rate that is closely tied to whatever the Federal Reserve has currently set as its main target for interest rates in the banking system and any changes the Fed might make in the near future.
It’s like betting on next week’s game: We know a lot about what opponent your team is facing, how well they’ve been playing, whether there are injuries that are likely to affect the outcome.
But if you buy a 10-year Treasury note, you’re making a bet on the more distant future. The economy will probably change a lot over the next decade. You can’t predict exactly what will happen, but you are betting on the general direction of things: Do you expect the economy to heat up, creating inflation pressures and causing the Fed to raise rates? Or do you expect it cool down?
So purchase of a longer-term Treasury bond is like making one of those long-term bets with a casino on how a team will perform for many years to come. You have no idea what the details are of which players they will sign or who will be coaching the team. You are betting on the general direction.
How might that bet might look with two different teams?
The Arizona Cardinals were terrible last year, and most bettors expect them to be pretty bad this year as well: Vegas odds suggest they will only win five or six games. But they have drafted an exciting young quarterback (Kyler Murray) and hired a new coach.
Even if you’re not a believer in the Cardinals for this season, you could reasonably expect that they will get better in the coming years — that their future is better than their present. If most bettors believed that, you could tell that from the difference between the price of a 10-year Cardinals betting contract and a one-year Cardinals betting contract — it might reveal, for example, that the team is expected to go from winning 5 games this year to 9 games two or three years from now.
Or consider the Patriots. They have been the best team in the game for the past two decades, but their quarterback, Tom Brady, is 42 years old, and their coach, Bill Belichick, is 67. It would be reasonable to expect the team to decline over the next decade after these stars retire.
The prices of the Patriots one-year contract, in other words, would probably reflect greater optimism than their 10-year contract.
Essentially, the relative prices of those short-term versus long-term betting contracts would tell you whether a team is viewed as likely to be on the upswing or the downswing — not necessarily today but at some point in the next few years.
That’s exactly what the yield curve is doing: It is telling us the difference between shorter-term and longer-term interest rates, and hence whether investors expect the economy to get better or worse in the years ahead. Our fictional Patriots yield curve is inverted, and so is the actual United States Treasury bond yield curve.
The moves in the bond market over the last nine months and especially the last couple of weeks are the equivalent of what would happen if Mr. Brady and Mr. Belichick both announced that this would be their last season before retiring. The current outlook remains stable, but the outlook for the coming decade has gotten worse.
Longer-term rates below shorter term rates are a clear signal from bond investors that they think the United States economy is on the downswing — that its future looks worse than its present.
It’s the opposite of times like 2009, when the economy was in recession and the yield curve pointed to future improvement. At those moments, the United States more resembled the Cardinals, a bad team but with room to improve in the coming years and (potentially) the tools to do it.
The good news is that this is merely the best guess of investors with trillions of dollars on the line. It could be wrong. Maybe the Patriots will pluck another Brady-esque quarterback in the draft, Mr. Belichick will coach until he is 80, and the team will remain a perennial Super Bowl contender. Market prices can be wrong!
And similarly, maybe the negative signals about the global economy will turn out to be overdone, and the United States economy will continue improving despite what the yield curve is suggesting now.
A lot of surprising things can happen in one N.F.L. season, let alone across years of them. That’s even more true for the global economy.
Matthew Allen, a 17-year-old rising senior at James Madison High School in Vienna, has been playing soccer since he was 5 years old. He has been dreaming of playing in college since eighth grade.
“Soccer takes up the majority of what I think about when I’m not in school,” Matthew says. “I love doing it so much that not playing in college wouldn’t feel right to me.”
To secure his spot on a college team, Matthew and his father, Mike Allen, are doing everything they can to help Matthew rise above the thousands of other high school soccer players hoping to get recruited by college coaches. For instance, after playing on his high school junior varsity team, Matthew decided not to pursue a spot on the varsity soccer team to focus exclusively on travel soccer and tournaments where college coaches can see him play. Although his father has never officially tallied up the investment the family has made in Matthew’s soccer career, a quick calculation shows a price tag easily in excess of $30,000, which includes travel team fees and other practice-related budget items.
In addition to the financial outlay, Matthew also keeps a grueling schedule. There’s attending classes and doing homework, of course, but he also lifts weights for an hour on Mondays and then attends a two-hour training session. On Tuesdays, he has a 90-minute club team practice; Wednesdays he does an hour of strength conditioning and then takes an hour-long ACT prep class that begins at 9 p.m.; Thursdays is another 90-minute club team practice; Fridays are slightly less intense with only 30 minutes of weight lifting, and Sunday is game day. His only free day is Saturday, when he typically sleeps in and spends time with his friends and girlfriend.
This doesn’t account for the days Matthew and his father travel to soccer tournaments or the time that he spends emailing coaches or visiting colleges to meet with coaches. “There are days when I wake up and don’t want to go to whatever I have that day,” he admits. “But I power through it and I feel accomplished that I had the mental strength to get through it and I made the best of it.”
An unrelenting schedule and tens of thousands of dollars spent on sports may sound like a lot to the uninitiated, but for the families of high school athletes in Northern Virginia, this picture is fairly par for the course. Over the years, high school sports have become less about getting a letter jacket and more about scoring a coveted spot on an elite college team. But with minimal spots available at top-tier schools, the pressure has also slowly ratcheted up—schedules like Matthew’s are not uncommon—and it’s left some parents, students and even mental health professionals cautioning that it may not be worth it.
The Competition is Fierce
Getting recruited to play on a college team is highly competitive, especially for a sport such as soccer where most coaches only recruit six or eight new players each year, says Douglas Homer, director of soccer at The St. James, a high-performance training center in Springfield, where Matthew trains. In fact, local residents and co-founders Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon built The St. James because they recognized that the DC market lacked a comprehensive training facility for elite sports. “We live in a very expensive and educated market,” Homer adds.
College recruiting used to be limited by the team’s budget and how far the coaches were willing to drive to see players. Now, coaches can cast a wider net because technology allows them to view videos of student athletes across the county and even overseas through recruiting websites, such as GotSoccer and Next College Student Athlete. It’s not unusual for coaches to talk with 500 or more potential players, Homer says. “Technology has changed the playing field for the coach and the student athlete,” he says. “Sometimes your kid is competing with someone who doesn’t even live in the United States.”
Competition off the field is tough, too. Being a great athlete is not enough to make the team; you also have to be a great student. College coaches typically only consider student-athletes with strong GPAs. “Coaches want to make sure you can get into their school, stay in their school and make good enough grades to be able to play on their team,” Matthew says.
“Parents always ask coaches what their kids can do to prepare for college soccer and every coach has said, ‘Get your grades up,’” Mike says. “None of them has suggested students work on passing or shooting.”
Yet, high school athletes still need to hone their athletic skills if they want to play on a college team. “The reality is not everyone is going to be a college prospect,” Homer says. “We want people to reach their potential but we have to be honest. You might see yourself as a Duke basketball player but perhaps you are more mid-major Division I or DII.” Getting to that higher level of competition often means spending all your free time practicing, including skills training, conditioning and refining your mental skills and coping skills. “If you’re not willing to do those things every single day, someone else is doing that and taking your spot,” Homer says.
As intense as Matthew’s schedule is, the reality is he’s likely competing with students who have made athletic training the focus of their daily schedule, Homer says. For many elite sports, including soccer, it’s becoming the norm for students to spend eight hours a day practicing, playing in matches and traveling. Before joining The St. James staff, Homer worked at a private school where students began their day with a soccer training session, studied for four hours and then finished the afternoon with another training session. This type of schedule is becoming increasingly common for swimmers, golfers and squash players, and many are home-schooled to allow them to train most of the day and still keep their grades up, says Alister Walker, a highly ranked professional squash player and director of squash at The St. James.
Scholarships Aren’t the Main Motivator
For many students, including Matthew, their goal isn’t to get a scholarship; it’s simply to get on a college team. In fact, with the exception of a few blockbuster players in high-profile sports, a full-ride sports scholarship isn’t generally a possibility. For Matthew, who is looking at joining a DIII team, there is no possibility of scholarship money. However, the rewards of playing on a college team aren’t monetary. “At every school we’re looking at there is tight bond amongst the players,” Mike says. “Then you think about the alumni, [and playing a college sport] becomes an alumni network for jobs. For me, as a parent, knowing there is that immediate network to help these kids, there’s a real benefit to that.”
Madison Kercher, 18, a recent graduate of Herndon High School, wasn’t looking for a full scholarship; she just wanted to play college lacrosse. In fact, she was so excited about the idea of playing in college that she verbally committed to play lacrosse for Arizona State University in February 2016, when she was only 15. Madison admits she felt pressure to join a college team because most of her teammates on her travel team, Capital Lacrosse, had already signed letters of intent and she worried that she wouldn’t get a spot on a DI team if she didn’t commit to a college the fall of her sophomore year. “I felt like I had to get it done,” she says.
Nearly two years later, when Kercher went on her official visit to ASU in September 2018, she began to have second thoughts because it was so far from home. Two days after her visit, she severed her relationship with the team and asked the Capital Lacrosse recruiting coach to help her find another college team to join, knowing there was a good chance she wouldn’t get a position on a Division I team. “Players are a commodity to these coaches, and there is no shortage of people who want to play in college,” observes her father, Tom Kercher.
She was able to get a spot on the Rutgers lacrosse team.
“What was important to us was Maddie wanted to play in college at the highest level and we wanted her to have the experience of being a D1 student athlete,” Tom says. In fact, when it looked like Madison might not get to play in college, the family felt a sense of loss. “For us, as parents, watching Maddie when going through this, it was very hard to see how stressed out she was,” says mother Kim Kercher. “There were times when I thought it was too much, but I knew if she didn’t have a stick in her hand and try to play in college she would never be happy.”
Not Just in NoVA
The prestige of scoring a coveted spot on a college sports team is apparent in Northern Virginia and the entire DC region, but recent headlines show that the competitiveness has reached a fever pitch in affluent circles all over the country.
Earlier this year, news broke of a sweeping bribery scandal that saw more than 30 parents accused of paying William Rick Singer, an admissions consultant, an estimated $25 million combined to bribe coaches at competitive colleges to recruit students into sports programs. Schools implicated in the Varsity Blues scandal include Georgetown University (which declined to comment for this story), as well as Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest University, University of California Los Angeles, University of Texas, University of San Diego and University of Southern California. Increasingly elite sports, such as crew, tennis and lacrosse, have become a means for affluent students to get into competitive schools. Many of these families can afford to spend thousands of dollars on club team fees, travel, a personal coach and maybe even a sports psychologist and nutritionist to help their fledging athlete mature.
In NoVA, student athletes who hope to be recruited are spending anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 a year, says Homer.
It’s easy for families to get swept up in the process, says psychotherapist Michele T. Cole, LCSW, and founder of Moving Forward, PLC, a private practice in Old Town, Alexandria. Parents need to make sure their child is making a decision that isn’t just good for them athletically, but also academically and emotionally. “Sometimes kids are getting recruited and they don’t even know why they are doing it,” she says. Continually ask your son or daughter why they want to play for a certain college and whether it fits into their overall goals, Cole says. “Are they doing it for the right reason or just because they are so caught up in the moment, they can’t take a step back?”
Madison Kercher’s story is familiar to Cole; her daughter was recruited to play lacrosse for the University of Denver, but before her daughter’s freshman year she decided to step away from the sport. “Listen to your kid,” Cole says. “They know what they need. When they say, ‘I’m ready to put my stick down,’ it can be hard because the whole family is walking away from it.”
Dreams Require Sacrifice
Football is the one sport that offers full scholarships, but not every player will be recruited by a DI team. Myron Flowers, strength and conditioning director at The St. James, sees no shame in playing ball at a smaller school. “It doesn’t matter what school you go to, as long as they [the school] are willing to pay [the tuition],” he says. There are a lot of schools that have football teams that parents and students have never heard of, he says, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive teams. This year, Flowers worked with 20 seniors; 16 received football scholarships. He counsels his athletes to “be the best player, student and person they can be, and see where the chips fall and accept whatever it is.”
And then there’s the quintessential high school athlete success story that every parent dreams about—the quarterback who gets recruited by a dozen DI schools. Mitch Griffis, 17, a rising senior, has been playing football for nearly 12 years. He was recruited by a dozen schools, including Harvard University, University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University, and received his first college offer January of his sophomore year. Last June, he accepted a full scholarship to play for Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in January 2020.
Mitch is clear-eyed about why he chose Wake Forest. “Definitely the coaching staff was the biggest reason why I felt it was the best fit,” he says. “They believe in the same things I do—moral character and work ethic.” He also liked that Wake Forest is close to home and it’s an Atlantic Coast Conference school.
None of his success has been accidental. Mitch’s father, Matt Griffis, started taking him to one-day recruiting camps at colleges the summer before he started ninth grade. “The purpose was for him to see what kind of talent was out there and what the college coaches were looking for,” says Matt, who is also the head football coach at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, where his son plays on the varsity team.
Don’t assume Mitch had it easy because his dad is the high school football coach. His weekly schedule leaves little room for free time. Every morning, except Wednesday, he lifts weights before school starts, from 7:15 to 8:45 a.m.; he does speed training three days a week; works on his football throws three days a week; and watches football videos three days a week for an hour to get a better understanding of the game. “There is always something you can learn,” he says. In between, he goes to school, studies, does homework and tries to sneak in time to hang out with friends.
Mitch understands that he has to make sacrifices to play football in college. “Lifting and throwing has to come in front of hanging out,” he says. It’s sometimes hard to say no to friends, he continues. “They give me a hard time but they understand.”
If They Don’t Make the Team
Playing a sport is a great way for students to make friends, learn leadership skills and life lessons. The danger comes when parents and students start setting unrealistic goals. “We really need to shift our culture away from asking, ‘Is my son or daughter good enough to play for the best team?’” Homer says.
Raising a student athlete can put extra stress on the entire family, Cole says. Someone has to get that student to games and to practice, and often the entire family’s weekend schedule revolves around tournaments. That’s a lot of pressure on the family, and it can feel like a full-time job to the student, she says. Sometimes when parents invest a lot of time and money into getting training and instruction for their student, they lose sight of the big picture and why their student started playing that sport.
It’s also not uncommon for students who play sports competitively to become isolated from other kids because they’re spending all their time practicing or competing, Cole says. Even when they’re with their teammates all weekend, they might not be developing friendships because they’re competing for a place on the team or playing time. “Make sure they’re doing things with friends outside their sport,” she says.
Playing the game can become such a big part of a student’s and the family’s life that, if high school ends, and they aren’t recruited to play in college, it can be difficult for the student and the family to handle. “Remind your student that they did their personal best,” Cole says. “Help them find a way to walk away from it.”
Meanwhile, Matthew spent Memorial Day weekend at a college showcase, where five coaches came to see him play soccer. Soon after that event, Matthew was offered his first college-roster spot. He and his father are reluctant to name the school because Matthew is still going through the recruiting process. Also, the offer is for a college they still need to visit, his father says. “It’s good to have one offer at this point,” Mike says, “because once other schools hear, it creates competitiveness among the coaches.”
While every sport has a different recruiting timeline, most high school athletes start thinking about college recruiting in middle school. By junior year, many will already have written offers from colleges. Here’s a timeline of what to expect and how to prepare your student athlete.
Develop a list of colleges your student would like to attend and play for. “Figure out what they like about the school,” says Doug Homer, director of soccer at The St. James. They will need to be prepared to verbalize why they want to attend the college and what they want to learn while they are there.
Join a travel team and start attending camps.
Start building a highlight reel.
Visit a few colleges and start to whittle down your list.
Begin to reach out to coaches by email. Let them know you want to play for their school, send them your highlight reel and let them know what tournaments you will be playing in. Make sure the email comes from the student, not the parent. Keep in mind you might not hear back from coaches because some sports prevent coaches from communicating with players until their junior year.
Keep attending camps and showcases to get in front of coaches.
Start looking at college rosters and determine how many players who play your position will still be on the team when you enroll in two years.
Research the graduate rate for athletic teams.
Evaluate the strength of the coaching staff. Have they been coaching there for a while? Is there staff turnover every two to three years?
Visit colleges, talk with coaches, meet with players and experience student life on campus.
Focus on your grades—understand what the school’s requirements are for GPA and SAT or ACT scores.
By now, you should begin hearing from coaches and might even begin to receive formal offers.
Continue visiting colleges and talking with coaches.
Ask your student athlete why they want to be recruited by that school and whether it fits with their goals.
This story has been updated from its original print version.
This post was originally published in our August 2019 issue. To stay up to date with culture in Northern Virginia, subscribe to our newsletters.